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Living Green: Easy Ways to Conserve Energy
Simple Ways to Conserve Energy to Lower Bills and Do Mother Nature a Favor
You may be surprised at how simple it is to save energy around your home and elsewhere, yet just a few easy steps and practices make a huge impact on your bills and on the environment. By saving energy, we help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that enters our atmosphere and also cut down on the use of precious natural resources. Some energy-saving tips are obvious, like turning off lights when people are not in the room, but there are other tips you may not be aware of. On this page, we will discuss some energy-saving tips that you can put into effect immediately to help your pocketbook and the environment in which we live.
Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey, via Creative Commons
Heating and Cooling Your Home
It is estimated that up to one third of your home's heat escapes from the roof, so think about insulating your attic and roof. You can buy cavity wall insulation for the roof at home improvement stores. Also, if you have a room that is located above the garage, you may notice that the room is always cold in the winter and hot in the summer. We had this problem and it happened to be the baby's room and I wasn't happy about having to keep a space heater in there with the baby to keep the room warm enough in the winter. My husband insulated the garage with styrofoam panels that slip in between the squares of the garage door. This inexpensive and easy task worked like a charm.
Another thing you can do to keep the warm air in during the winter is to seal all windows, doors, and other areas that aren't sealed well enough with weather stripping or caulk. Also, be sure to close the fireplace damper when you are sure there are no hot coals left. Much of the heat in our homes escapes through the damper. Keep the thermostat turned to the lowest temperature you and your family can feel comfortable in. Wear layers of warm clothing instead of relying on heating the house. Leave the curtains open during the day to let the sunlight heat your home. Experts recommend leaving the temperature at about 68 degrees or lower during the winter months and to turn it to an even lower temperature at night and when no one will be home.
In the summer, it is recommended to set the thermostat at around 75 degrees and to set it for a higher temperature when no one will be home for an extended time period. Just one degree of change on your thermostat can save up to 5 percent on your bill. You can also shut curtains and install black out liner on the curtains to keep the warm sunlight from heating your house. Also, be sure to always have a fresh air filter in place to let the air flow freely without working hard to push through gunk.
You may be surprised to hear that most of the energy from a run-of-the-mill incandescent light bulb actually goes to heating the bulb instead of providing light. What a huge waste of electricity! Switching to compact fluorescent bulbs is more expensive in the short run, but will definitely pay off over time. Fluorescent bulbs last 8-10 times longer than incandescents and use 1/4 less energy. Also, be sure to teach all family members to turn off the lights in areas they are not occupying.
Great Video About Conserving Energy in Your Home
Big energy sucker!
Most people probably don't really think about their water heater all that much unless it breaks, but this item is responsible for a pretty big portion of your energy bill. As often as you can, use cold or lukewarm water to cut down on the water that the water heater has to heat up. Teach family members to take shorter showers so as not to waste too much hot water. By using less water, we are also conserving energy because it takes a large amount of energy to clean water at water facilities.
Turn the temperature of the heater to about 140 degrees. A ten percent reduction of the heat can result in saving around 600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year, so you are doing the Earth and its inhabitants a favor. You may also want to insulate your water heater by wrapping it with an insulating jacket.
Water Heater Insulation Blankets
Appliances and Electronics
Many of us simply cannot just go out today and purchase brand new appliances for our homes, but when you do have to replace an appliance, go for an energy-efficient one with the Energy Star label. These appliances are proven to work with less energy and less water waste.
As mentioned previously, conserving water energy conserves energy as well. Use cold or lukewarm water when hand-washing dishes and when washing clothes in the washer as this saves energy by allowing the water heater to relax a little. You may be surprised at the fact that your clothes will come out just as clean if you skip the hot water. Always dry a full load in the dryer. One full load of laundry in the dryer uses less energy than drying two small loads.
Other tips for conserving energy with your appliances and electronics include: keeping the refrigerator closed as much as you can to trap in the cold air, getting rid of extra refrigerators or deep freezers, using the microwave instead of the oven as a microwave uses almost half of the energy that an oven does, turning off and unplugging appliances and electronics when not in use, and using surge protectors that can turn off electronics in one fell swoop.
Shop Smart and Use Recycled Products
Did you know that it takes WAY less energy to recycle a product than it takes to manufacture a new one from raw materials? For this reason, always choose recycled products instead of new ones if you are able to and steer clear of disposable items. Instead, go for items that can be used and reused multiple times. Cut down on the amount of garbage you throw away by reusing items, repurposing items, and recycling things that are recyclable. When you can, buy clothes that are used from thrift stores, Goodwill, and consignment sales. You might be pleasantly surprised at the quality clothing items you may find, including ones with the tags still on them, and you'll feel great about reusing items that could have otherwise been thrown in the trash. If you are building new construction, try to acquire used wood and other building materials from houses that are being demolished, scrap yards, and salvage yards. These items are great if you happen to be an artist too!.
Helpful Sites to See
If you live in the United Kingdom, there are several options for energy-saving grants at energysavinggrants.org.
Check out energy.gov who addresses energy, environmental and nuclear issues in the United States.
For more information about and tips from Energy Star, click here.
A list of 365 ways to save energy can be found at Carroll Energy Solutions.